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Wolves at Blazers: Freefallin’

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Minnesota looks to stop the bleeding in Portland

Orlando Magic v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Wolves at Blazers
9:00pm CST
FS North

Well, the losing streak is at nine games, so only a win on the second night of a back-to-back on the West Coast can stop the streak from reaching double-digits.

Considering it seems unlikely Karl-Anthony Towns is going to come back tonight, the outlook only gets more bleak. There really isn’t much to look forward to with a bleak roster, but we’ll try to be optimistic moving into the holiday season.

First things first, I’m actually optimistic about Andrew Wiggins tonight. He looked assertive last night, and it felt like his impact was greater than what the box score indicated. I need him to finish a monster dunk tonight. He was close against Michael Porter, Jr. and I bet he puts one down tonight.

I’m looking forward to watching every non-shooting aspect of Jarrett Culver’s game tonight. I tried to make a Swiss Army Knife comparison about him, but the comment section improved my analogy, describing him as a Swiss Army Knife that’s missing the actual knife itself. His overall floor game is really good, he just cannot shoot and it looks ugly. Anyways, positives rolling into the holidays. Give me something like 10/7/7 tonight for JC.

Additionally, he needs to play a bit more aggressive. He sometimes looks scared/tentative out there. He’s skilled, but he won’t ever be able to score enough and be a plus on offense if he’s tentative. As John Wooden would say, “He who hesitates is lost.”

Give me more Keita Bates-Diop minutes. The Wolves are getting lackluster production from the 4 in the non-RoCo minutes, and KBD seem like the kind of guy who deserves those minutes. He has a knack for making winning plays, and has shown at least some ability to hit corner threes. He’s worth more of a look.

Keep giving Jaylen Nowell minutes. He struggled on D last night, but they need his shooting out there. He looked kind of tentative at times, so I’d like to see him get more burn to get a little more comfortable out there. It’s kind of early for this, but they really should be trying to find out if any of these draft picks are worth keeping around long-term.

In a less optimistic sense, we need to keep watching Ryan Saunders’ rotations. They’ve been kind of confusing recently, and he seems to struggle to ride a hot hand in the midst of a terrible losing streak. Play the guys who are playing well.

The Blazers got off to a very poor start to the season, but are currently on a three game winning streak and have snuck into the 8th spot in the Western Conference.

They’ve been beset by injuries, with two key big men, Jusuf Nurkic and Zach Collins both out long term. Rodney Hood recently went down for the season, and in-season signing Carmelo Anthony will also be unavailable tonight.

Still, they have fashioned a top 10 offense because they rarely turn the ball over and are seventh in the league in three point percentage. Of course that offense is led by Damian Lillard, who is once again having an All-Star caliber season, and C.J. McCollum, who combine to average nearly 50 a game from the back court.

Elsewhere they are quite thin with all the injuries, but probably belong in the playoff conversation. They struggle on the glass, but without Karl-Anthony Towns, it’s not clear the Wolves will be able to take advantage.

It would be nice to stop the losing streak before it hits double-digits, but it’s going to be tough on the back end of a road back to back.

Projected Lineups

Blazers

Damian Lillard
C.J. McCollum
Kent Bazemore
Anthony Tolliver
Hassan Whiteside

Wolves

Shabazz Napier
Josh Okogie
Andrew Wiggins
Robert Covington
Gorgui Dieng

Our blogging buddies are over at Blazers Edge. Be excellent.